10 Gift Shopping Tips for Procrastinators

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Have you waited until the last minute to wrap up your shopping? Don’t panic. You don’t have to overspend in the rush to finish up.

These pointers will help to keep you from going overboard, spending more than you can afford during these few holiday shopping days left in 2020.

1. Pare your list

Santa with list.
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Unfortunately, many of the best holiday prices have come and gone for many items. Even so, now is not the time to splurge on gifts.

Narrow your list to include only those people nearest and dearest to you. It may be tempting to pick up an adorable doll for the neighbor’s toddler or a gift card for your favorite co-worker, but that can quickly cause your spending to spiral.

Overspending leaves you with less for spending on those who matter most. Or, worse, it adds a substantial amount of new credit card debt to your personal balance sheet.

(By the way, if you’re struggling with credit card debt, our Solutions Center has resources to help you get out from under it.)

2. Shop online

Man shopping online.
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Going this route can save you a ton of time and money. You may be able to avoid crowded stores altogether, assuming your gifts still can be shipped on time. At very least, you can compare many possibilities, sort by price and pinpoint your objectives to more efficiently pick things up.

To learn how to get an even better deal, check out how to get cash back on your purchases here: “3 Websites That Pay You for Shopping.”

3. Purchase gift cards tied to promotional offers

Target gift card
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Many retailers and restaurants offer gift cards at a reduced rate as part of holiday promotional offers.

And if you decide to give a gift card — that’s certainly one solution for last-minute presents — check out “7 Money-Saving Gift Card Tricks You Should Know.”

4. Set a time limit

Clock in holiday scene.
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With your final list in hand, determine a reasonable amount of time to spend on choosing gifts. The idea is this: If you’re shopping with time constraints, there will be limited idle time to spend money on unnecessary items.

Once you begin shopping, set an alarm on your phone or other electronic device and refer to it frequently to keep you on track.

5. Pack a snack

Making a sandwich
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If you will be shopping in stores, get ready for the shopping trip. Bring a list or load it on your phone.

Eat some favorite snacks before heading out. Or take them with you. Try to abstain from buying snacks in stores, adding to your holiday shopping bills.

6. Comparison shop

Man shopping, looking at cellphone
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Comparison shopping is easy when shopping online. Try this approach: When using a browser to search, choose “Shopping” among the filter options (such as “All,” “Shopping,” “News” and “Video”) at the top of the page. Select “Shopping” for offers and prices from various merchants.

Comparison shopping in-store in the midst of a pandemic is more challenging this year. Normally, when you see an “irresistible” price, you’d search in your smartphone for a lower price online and ask the store to match it. These days, safety comes first. It’s best not to linger in public spaces. Just step outside with your phone to do your comparison shopping.

7. Re-gift

Man holding Christmas gift, winking.
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Do you have any brand new items sitting around unused? Ho, ho, ho. Check out: “The 9 Rules of Savvy Re-gifting.

One caution: Be sure to avoid giving a gift back to the person who gave it to you.

8. Put your creative talents to use

Hands making crafts
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If you have a little bit of time to spare, try your hand at some arts and crafts. Not sure where to start? Pinterest offers oodles of do-it-yourself project ideas along with instructions on how to create the perfect gift at little or no cost.

9. Check out Craigslist

Craigslist on screen.
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Cast your net wide when gift shopping and peruse the classifieds on Craigslist. You’ll find furniture and vehicles and everything in between. In some instances, things are offered free of charge to the first person to respond to the ad.

10. Let them choose

Feet with arrows pointing different directions.
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Still not sure what to purchase for those last few people on your list? Giftly allows you to give a specified sum of money, along with a suggestion on how to use it. In return, the recipient lets you know how the funds were spent.

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